KURDWATCH NEWSLETTER WEST KURDISTAN 2013 – Rumailan: Syrian oil minister meets with PYD

KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 13, 2013, the Syrian oil minister, Sulayman alʿAbbas, paid a visit to representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rumailan. According to eyewitnesses, the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD, had the empty oil drums that mark PYD checkpoints painted blue prior to the visit. They had been previously painted in the Kurdish colors of red, yellow, and green. In addition to PYD members, Arab tribal leaders from the National Defense Army also took part in the conversation with alʿAbbas. The minister allegedly promised the involved parties a fixed percentage of oil revenues. The PYD’s share is said to be twenty percent.

KURDWATCH, November 26, 2013—Within a short time frame of a few hours on November 23, 2013, three car bombs exploded in alQamishli and the surrounding area. The first attack was directed at the Syrian regimes largest checkpoint on a busy roundabout five kilometers south of the city. The second bomb exploded in front of the office of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in the district of Qanat asSuwais. The third attack took place in the PYD-controlled village of Tall Maʿruf (fifteen kilometers southeast of alQamishli) and was directed against the party headquarters located within a school. According to Islamist sources, these were targeted attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant against the regime and its supporters. Exact information about the number of victims is not available. Islamist sources mention more than forty dead; PYD sources mention three dead without listing their names. The Syrian regime has not yet commented on the number of victims.

ʿAmudah: PYD demonstrates against Barzani


KURDWATCH, November 26, 2013—On November 21, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized another demonstration against Masʿud Barzani, the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan, in ʿAmudah. Similar to the demonstration in ʿAfrin , Barzani was also described in ʿAmudah as a »traitor and collaborator« due to his meeting with the Turkish prime minister Erdoğan on November 17 in Diyarbakır. Only eight days earlier, the PYD had prohibited a Kurdish National Council demonstration in ʿAmudah to mark the 63. anniversary of the ʿAmudah cinema fire [download PDF] due to the general political situation [further information].

Al-Qamishli: Regime supporters organize demonstration

KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 14, 2013, several dozen members of the ruling Baʿth party organized a demonstration in the center of alQamishli. The demonstrators chanted slogans such as »Baʿthists, take to the streets« and »We will sacrifice our blood and our soul for you, Bashar«. Two days prior in alQamishli, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) had announced the formation of a local transitional administration for the Kurdish regions.

ʿAfrin: PYD organizes demonstration against Barzani

KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 18, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a demonstration in ʿAfrin against Masʿud Barzani, the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan. Barzani, who was received by the Turkish prime minister Erdoğan and ten thousand visitors in Diyarbakır on November 17,, was described as a »traitor and collaborator«. A few days earlier, on November 14, Barzani had made a statement condemning the politics of the PYD. He said that the PYD claims to have started the revolution in Syria, but is in fact cooperating with the Syria regime, which has ceded the Kurdish regions to the PYD. According to Barzani, the PYD is against national unity. It uses armed force against other Syrian-Kurdish parties and excludes the other parties in unilaterally declaring the self-administration of Western Kurdistan. Barzani had initially tried to check the power of the PYD with the Erbil agreement , but this approach failed.

Al-Qamishli: PYD forms local administration

KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 12, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a conference in alQamishli to establish a local administration. The Kurdish National Council did not attend the event as the PYD had convened it without any consultation, even though the National Council was at the same time negotiating with the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan over the exact terms for establishing a joint local administration. Only representatives of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Party and the two factions of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria took part in the conference. Fathullah Husayni, member of the Central Committee of Muhammad Musa Muhammad’s Kurdish Left Party, told KurdWatch: »We are not against the decision of the Kurdish National Council, of which we are a member. But the Kurdish National Council distanced itself from the transitional administration very suddenly. We as a party will always take part in such an administration. It is a legitimate right of our people.« An eighty-two person founding council was elected at the conference.

Al-Malikiyah: Demonstration on the Day for Tolerance

KURDWATCH, November 23, 2013—On November 16, 2013, the International Day for Tolerance, several hundred people in alMalikiyah (Dêrik) demonstrated for tolerance and understanding among peoples. The Kurdish National Council and the Assyrian Democratic Organization organized the rally.

ʿAmudah: PYD prohibits Kurdish National Council demonstration

KURDWATCH, November 21, 2013—On November 13, 2013, to mark the 63rd anniversary of the cinema fire in ʿAmudah [download PDF], several dozen members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) as well as other activists laid flowers at the memorial for the dead. A demonstration announced by the Kurdish National Council was again canceled after the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had stated that it would prohibit »unauthorized demonstrations.« The PYD had additionally called for abstaining from demonstrations in light of the current political situation. The PYD itself raised its flag at the memorial for the dead, a gesture that an activist described to KurdWatch as an »unbearable provocation« that »not even the Baʿth regime allowed itself.«

Al-Qamishli: New youth organization founded

KURDWATCH, November 21, 2013—At a press conference on October 21, 2013, activists announced the founding of the National Organization of Kurdish Youth, a coalition of the Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth and several smaller Kurdish youth organizations. To the question of whether this was a new party, founding member Munzir Iskan told KurdWatch: »No, we are not a party, but an organization with a clear political line. Moreover, we want to partake in important political decisions alongside the Kurdish parties.« Sarbaz Farman, a founding member of the Union of the Cooperation of Kurdish Youth, explained: »The majority of our members were no longer active. The rest have joined the new organization. I myself do not believe that a new youth organization can achieve anything. The PYD has too much power.«

ʿAmudah: Prime Minister dismisses five teachers from service

KURDWATCH, November 18, 2013—On October 27, 2013, a decision by the Syrian prime minister to dismiss five teachers in ʿAmudah from public service came to light. The teachers in question are Khidr ʿIsa, Ahmad ʿAlo, Yunis Asʿad, Walid alHusaini, and Anas Mijwal. The reasons behind the decision are not known. Although ʿAmudah has been controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) since December 2012, the Syrian government, which continues to pay the salaries of civil servants, can still make such far-reaching personnel decisions. Khidr ʿIsa, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), told KurdWatch: »Members of the school board in ʿAmudah informed us verbally that they were no longer allowed to pay us salaries. We did not receive a copy of the decision. We don’t even know the official reason for our dismissal.«